Answers unfounded

By Tyler Vincent

So they get to watch.

A group of family members whose loved ones were killed in the bombing of the Arthur P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995 will watch convicted bomber Timothy McVeigh be executed by lethal injection on closed circuit TV. The execution is scheduled at 7 p.m. May 16 at a federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind.

It is not enough for the family members to know that justice was served when McVeigh was found guilty. It is not enough for them to know that as punishment for the crime, McVeigh will have to forfeit his life.

No, they want to see him suffer up close and personal.

You see it is all under the guise of “therapy.” Attorney General John Ashcroft granted the victims’ families the right to watch the broadcast in hopes that it would “close this chapter of their lives,” according to an April 12 Reuters story.

“The transmission to the victims in the Oklahoma City area will begin at the same time the curtain is opened for viewing … All witnesses will see Mr. McVeigh on the execution table, and they will be able to hear any final statement Mr. McVeigh makes,” Ashcroft said in the same article.

Therapy? Hardly. This is a matter of revenge. And it has become a disturbing trend in American justice.

We demand a punishment system that appeals revenge & which brings out the worst in us & as opposed to fairness and justice & which is designed to appeal to the best in us. We want less rehab and more jail time. We not only want the criminal to be found guilty of the crime, we now want to watch him or her die.

While the victims deserve the sympathies and prayers of all of us, they should not be permitted to view the execution of McVeigh.

There is little doubt that McVeigh is a monster. He picked one of the busiest times of day to lay a powerful car bomb to maximize the number of casualties for an unworthy cause. Because he has been found guilty of this despicable act, he must surrender his life.

But the brutal actions of one man should not inspire anyone to view a man’s execution for the sake of feeding one’s need for revenge.

And revenge is the only thing on anyone’s mind who chooses to partake in this “event.” It is certainly not to close any “chapters,” as Ashcroft claims.

First, for the families, the chapter where a loved one is lost, given the tragic circumstances, can never be closed. The memories of a cherished person cannot simply end when the perpetrator is executed. People’s memories are not light switches.

Second, in the eyes of the family members, death by lethal injection will nowhere near provide the amount of suffering they desire.

The victims of the bombing, all 168 of them, all died horrendous deaths. Some were hit by airborne debris caused by the bomb. Others were crushed by the falling debris of the building.

These horrendous thoughts will play on the minds of family members who choose to view the execution. They will be examined against the death of McVeigh, who will have a needle slide into him, experience a few twitches and then nothing.

Ultimately, it will leave some family members unfulfilled.

In Kerry Lauerman’s brilliant article “Killing as Closure,” which was published in on Monday, Judy Busch of Oklahoma City was allowed to watch the execution of Floyd Allen Medlock, the man who was convicted of murdering her 7-year-old granddaughter Kathy. Medlock was sentenced to death via lethal injection.

“It left me feeling angry, I guess,” Busch said in the article. “It just looked like he was sleeping. He made several little gasps. No jerking. No anything. Then he seemed to change color some, and we knew. I couldn’t help but think, why didn’t he fight? It’s a real

disappointment. You want him to hurt.”

The death of McVeigh will be humane. And if you are a family member determined to “close the chapter,” this will never do. Eventually under this mindset, capital punishment laws will have to change.

After all, we are concerned about the victims’ families “closing the door” enough to bring them the execution live on closed circuit TV, right? Then the next logical step would be to worsen the means of the execution to increase the suffering of the criminal, right?

Sure. Let’s call Florida and have them ship up the defective electric chair known as “Old Smokey,” a mean little thing that would malfunction and set the condemned on fire before finally electrocuting them.

Not enough? OK, lets bring back the primitive stretching rack, and we can all howl.

Still not satisfied? How about a crucifixion? Seriously. All Christian imagery aside, there has never been, nor will there ever be a more efficient, more brutal or more painful way to die.

That should be enough to quench the angry fires of revenge that burn in the victim.